Thursday, October 05, 2017

Trump Off-Script On Bankster Bondage of Puerto Rico


nakedcapitalism  |  And speaking of Goldman, notice that Trump takes an explicit swipe at the investment bank turned Beltway heavyweight. He must be chafing at have been leashed and collared by the generals and the Goldmanites.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday while on a trip to Puerto Rico to observe hurricane recovery efforts that the island’s massive debt will have to be wiped out.
“They owe a lot of money to your friends on Wall Street and we’re going to have to wipe that out. You’re going to say goodbye to that, I don’t know if it’s Goldman Sachs but whoever it is you can wave goodbye to that,” Trump said in an interview with Fox News.
CNBC picked up on the Reuters story quickly and highlighted the bleak fundamentals:
Even before the storm brought Puerto Rico to a near standstill, the government there already struggled with an economy in shambles and a default on billions of dollars of public debt.
Today, the U.S. territory has nearly $70 billion in debt, an unemployment rate 2.5 times the U.S. average, a 45 percent poverty rate, nearly insolvent pension systems and a chronically underfunded Medicaid insurance program for the poor.
Puerto Rico’s job base continues to shrink, taking its economy along with it. Since the recession ended, a lack of job prospects has sent many Puerto Ricans fleeing to the mainland, where the job market is much stronger.
However, it is unlikely that Goldman would suffer much, if at all, in a Puerto Rico bankruptcy. It might hold some bonds in its trading inventory, but its big exposure would come via funds it manages. On those, under the Volcker Rule, Goldman is limited to owning a small percentage of the equity investment in the fund (3% is the nominal amount, although there may be some tricks of the trade for increasing the exposure). 

But David Dayen has found one of the big owners of Puerto Rico debt, as reported in a new story at the Intercept. If you read the article in full, tracking down the who was behind the shell company used to hide the ultimate owners is very reminiscent of the sort of gumshoe work that Richard Smith does chasing international scammers.